04/18/14 1:00pm


Decisions, decisions, decisions and decisions. Or to be more specific: science, kites, film noir and eggs. There are some great options for family fun, entertainment and enrichment in the borough tomorrow, April 19th. It’s probably easiest to list them in bullet form.

  • Doktor Kaboom! This loveable nut performs original interactive “science comedy” for audiences of all ages. Blending the dramatic with the wonders of scientific exploration, the Good Doktor (above) keeps the crowd riveted with interest and rolling with laughter going on a sidesplitting journey of increasingly spectacular (and often successful) experiments designed to involve, excite, educate, and entertain. Back by popular demand, he returns to Queens Theatre (14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park) for 1 pm and 3 pm shows on Saturday$14 per ticket or $100 for a Family Series Flex Pass (10 tickets to use however you want.)
  • Let’s Go Fly a Kite! It’s National Kite Month, and the King Manor Museum (150-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica) is offering a chance to learn about these objects that can be used for scientific discovery, fun or design. Attendees will create, decorate, fly and take home kites. Noon to 3 pm, free.
  • Spring Egg-Stavaganza! Easter weekend at Queens Botanical Garden (43-50 Main Street, Flushing) is known for two things: blooming flora and egg hunts. Due to popular demand, there will be two sessions that will include games, crafts, scavenger hunts and prizes. noon to 1:30 pm and 2 pm to 3:30 pm, $5.
  • The Real Mann! Hollywood legend Anthony Mann was one of the greatest directors of two genres that seem very disparate: film noir, featuring nocturnal and claustrophobic dramas; and the Western, with dramas set against wide-open landscapes. The Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria) launches an eight-film retrospective on Mann with two movies on Saturday. T-Men at 4 pm is about treasury agents who go undercover to penetrate a gang of Los Angeles counterfeiters. Raw Deal at 7 pm tells the story of a woman who helps spring her boyfriend from a state prison so they can flee to South America. If these movies inspire, the museum will screen two more —  The Great Flamarion and Border Incident — on Sunday.


04/15/14 1:00pm


It’s the New York City marathon for word lovers. Queens Writes Weekend 2014 will facilitate more than 12 literary events at a minimum of six venues throughout the world’s most diverse borough over the last weekend in April. The fun will start on Friday, April 25th, with an open reading at The Astoria Bookshop featuring contributors to the third issue of Newtown Literary, a semi-annual journal. On Saturday and Sunday, the events will differ, but authors of all kinds — young, old, novice, expert — will simply sit down together and write for a few hours. Participants will then share the products of their efforts at an open mic event at Terraza 7 in Elmhurst on Sunday night.

Details: Queens Writes Weekend 2014, begins with Kick-Off Reading at The Astoria Bookshop, 31-29 31st Street, Astoria, April 25th, 7 pm, click here for times and venues on April 26th and April 27th, ends at Wrap-Up Open Mic at Terraza 7, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, April 27th, 6 pm, suggested donations at all times to defray the costs of publishing Newtown Literary‘s fourth edition and other good works. So far, events are set for Astoria, Bayside, Corona, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights and Kew Gardens, but more sites are expected to be confirmed before the weekend begins. Schedule and venues will be posted and updated regularly on this page.

Photo: Audrey Dimola

04/09/14 1:00pm


The word “LEGO” is a combination of the Danish words “leg godt,” which mean “play well” in English. The original toys were made of wood, but in 1958, the LEGO Group introduced the interlocking brick, which currently comes in various colors, shapes and sizes and has a cult-like following around the world, mesmerizing adults as well as children. On Saturday, these plastic playthings will begin a long run in Queens, when the Museum of the  Moving Image offers 60-minute LEGO animation workshops for children twice a day through April 22nd. Led by a master builder, participants will work in teams to plan and create a stop-motion animated film. The same Astoria venue will screen The LEGO Movie in Dolby Digital 3-D from April 14th through April 18th. This stop-motion animated feature tells the story of Emmet, a perfectly average LEGO mini-figure who is mistakenly identified as the “most special, most interesting, most extraordinary person” and the key to saving the world. Meanwhile, the Queens Theatre on April 13th will open Iconic Symbols of the 1964 World’s Fair Reimagined — in LEGOs, a display of World’s Fair structures inspired by expert builder Cody Wells. They will be on exhibit through November 2nd. The Flushing Meadows Corona Park theater will go for more on May 18th with Build It!: A LEGO Workshop, three sessions after which each participant will leave with a mini-model of the New York State Pavilion.

Details for Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria): Master Builder Lego Animation Workshops, April 12th – 22nd, 1:30 pm and 3 pm, daily, $5 materials fee; The LEGO Movie, April 14th-18th, 1 pm daily.

Details for Queens Theatre (14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park): Iconic Symbols of the 1964 World’s Fair Reimagined — in LEGOs, April 13th – November 2nd, free; Build It!: A LEGO Workshop, May 18th, 11 am, 2 pm and 4 pm, free.


Top photo: Flickr (notenoughbricks); bottom photo: MMI

04/01/14 12:30pm

Burnt Ends_700

Welcome to the Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email emily@brownstoner.com.

The Spot: Butcher Bar, 37-08 30th Avenue, Astoria.

The Deal: Astoria’s first local, organic, and natural butcher shop opened in 2011 but serves more than just raw meat; it also serves Kansas City-style BBQ.

“Our humble little shop, Butcher Bar is a butcher shop first, and a BBQ restaurant second,” says Matthew Katakis, the restaurant’s founder and Queens native. As a Queens native, Katakis was familiar with the Astoria restaurant scene and pounced on an open space across on 30th Avenue to expand the area’s offerings.

“We wanted to give options to our community and only offer hormone-free, antibiotic-free and pasture-raised-and-grazed animals that were given a humane lifestyle and a respectful death and conversion to our dinner tables,” says Katakis.

The Dish: Burnt Ends have been on the menu of this Astoria BBQ restaurant since its opening. If you want them, arrive early: They are always the first dish to sell out each day. “These ‘meat candy’ are made from the fatty deckle, off the top of the brisket which needs extra smoking time to melt the fat and make it edible,” says Katakis. “Other places end up just cutting it off and throwing it away, but this in fact is a real delicacy.”

The Butcher Bar smokers are running consistently filled with a rotating menu of meats – ribs, pork belly, and sausage among other cuts – but the burnt ends are always on the menu and given special attention. “We smoke them for over 16 hours and add a second rub to them after about 12.5 hours in our smoker,” explains Katakis.

The restaurant’s motto is “Eat less meat, but eat good meat,” but if you want that meat to be Butcher Bar’s burnt ends, you better get to the restaurant before they sell out.

03/31/14 1:00pm


The British aren’t coming! The British aren’t coming! But the Cypriots, Czechs, Estonians, French, Italians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles, Romanians and Slovenians certainly are. On April 4th, the Museum of the Moving Image kicks of Panorama Europe, a showcase of 17 contemporary feature and short films from the Old Continent, many of which are co-presented by their corresponding country’s cultural agency. Unit 7 (below), a cop thriller set in the Seville in the late 1980s, screens first with director Alberto Rodríguez in person for a Q&A. Other movies include the following: Paradise: Love, about a middle-aged Austrian divorcee who vacations in Kenya, where sex with the buff beach boys is booming—and ultimately ruinous; Rosie, about a sad-sack, 40-something gay novelist who moves back to his rural Swiss hometown to care for his ailing, alcoholic mother, dredging up their complicated emotional history; and Sonja and the Bull (above), a Croatian comedy about a big city animal-rights activist lobbying to end the sport of bullfighting. A pro-bullfighting contingent approaches her with a bizarre, put-up-or-shut-up wager. The fun lasts through April 13th.

Details: Click here for dates, times, venues and movie descriptions. All films at the Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria; or Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, Manhattan. 

Grupo 7.  Pelicula Alberto Rodriguez. ATIPICA FILMS

Photos: MMI

03/28/14 1:00pm


Forget the aspirin. Take two Queens concerts this weekend, and you will feel great on Monday morning. On Saturday, the Quintet of the Americas (below), a group of woodwind specialists with a South American sound, will perform tango songs with world-renowned pianist/conductor Pablo “King of the Zarzuela” Zinger in Flushing. Unique to its core, the quintet was actually formed 1976 in Bogotá by U.S. citizens who were principal wind players in the Colombian National Orchestra. The group relocated to Queens in 1979. On Sunday in its home neighborhood, the Astoria Symphony Orchestra and Choir (above) will perform German masterpieces, emphasizing the dichotomies of classical vs. romantic, choral vs. orchestral and Mendelssohn vs. Wagner vs. Mozart. Those who arrive 30 minutes before the show will be able to chat with Maestro Silas Nathaniel Huff, who will discuss the program, the musicians and other secrets.

Saturday details: A Celebration of the Tango, Flushing Library, 41-17 Main Street, Flushing, March 29th, 1:30 pm, free.

Sunday details: Dichotomies, Mount Carmel Institute, 23-20 Newtown Avenue, Astoria, March 30, 5 pm, $20/$15 for seniors and students.


Top photo: ASO; bottom photo: QOTA

03/24/14 11:00am


The Saint Demetrios Cathedral on 31st Street here in Astoria holds an annual street fair in the late spring, and last year I had an opportunity to enter the church and wave my camera around a bit. Greek, or Eastern Orthodox as the faithful would prefer, churches are a particular favorite of mine to visit and photograph due to the literally byzantine artwork and wealth of lavish ornamentation.

From saintdemetriosastoria.com:

Saint Demetrios was born in Thesaloniki, Greece in 270 AD. He came from a wealthy family and because he was athletic in appearance and heroic in spirit, he became a high-ranking officer in the Roman Army at a very young age. (This is why he is depicted in Byzantine icons in military dress, either standing or riding a horse.) He considered himself a soldier of Christ first, and a military soldier second. He spent most of his time as a devout missionary, preaching the Gospel at secret meetings and converting pagans to the Christian faith.



03/11/14 12:30pm

The Thirsty Koala_700

Welcome to the Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email emily@brownstoner.com.

The Spot: The Thirsty Koala, 35-12 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria.

The Deal: Although Queens has one of the most diverse populations in New York City, Australian cuisine has yet to gain a foothold. The Thirst Koala aims to change that. Owner and co-owner Katherine Fuchs says the restaurant prides itself on sourcing local ingredients and building relationships with long-standing purveyors, such as the 100-year-old Caleb Haley in the Fulton Fish Market.

As is the case in cooking non-local cuisine, The Thirsty Koala can’t always use local ingredients and instead uses bush tucker, ingredients indigenous to Australia. Many of the bush tucker ingredients are meats: kangaroo from Queensland, lamb from Queensland and Tasmania, and award-winning beef from the Manning Valley in New South Wales.

The Dish: For diners new to Australian cuisine, Fuchs recommends the appetizer of pasture-fed grilled Australian lamb lollies. Although the restaurant’s aim is to use locally sourced ingredients, the lamb lollies are one of the few dishes to use imported meat. Fuchs imports the lamb to ensure the correct taste.

“I use Australian lamb because I have not found a locally sourced product that compares with its subtle yet robust flavor and tender texture,” she says.

The meat is rubbed with wattle seeds, one of the bush tucker seasonings on the menu.

“Wattle seed has coffee notes, but when used with our lollies it lends a toasty flavor,” Fuchs says. “I serve them with caramelized pumpkin and a small salad of rocket [arugula] and seasonal fruit, which at the moment is pomegranate.”

The combination of local ingredients and bush tucker creates a fresh and unique flavor for guests familiar and new to Australian cuisine.

03/06/14 11:00am


For a few years, I lived on one of the many blocks occupied by yellow brick row houses, here in Astoria. The block pictured above is 44th street between 30th and 31st avenues, for the curious. It’s the same block that Robert Deniro shot part of “A Bronx Tale” on. These are “barbell tenements” essentially, six railroad units on three floors with an air shaft in the middle.

This particular stretch of Matthews Model Flats in Astoria is just over a hundred years old (1911), as is a lot of the building stock in an area which I’ve been told was once called “the German Section” – “back in the day”. Model tenements are what they were built as, the affordable housing of its time, and while walking my little dog Zuzu one morning I began to ponder those bricks.

Those yellow bricks, with the little specks of glittery iron in them.

Everywhere you go, from Ridgewood to Maspeth to Astoria – you see those yellow bricks. Realizing that I had never thought about where bricks come from led to a bit of primary research about the history of brick manufacture in these United States, but don’t worry, that’s not what this post is about.

From an excellent illustrated history of brick manufacturing in the New World at brickcollecting.com:

The first bricks in the English colonies in North America were probably made in Virginia as early as 1612. New England saw its first brick kiln erected at Salem, Massachusetts in 1629. The Dutch colonists in New Amsterdam imported yellow bricks from Holland, which imparted a Dutch character to the architecture of the city. The excellent quality and abundance of local clays in the colonies made it unnecessary to import bricks from across the Atlantic. Brick-making centers developed in Fort Orange (what is now Albany), New York; near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Burlington and Trenton, New Jersey, as well as along the Raritan River.


This is a more evolved form of the Matthews Flats, found over in Maspeth.


02/28/14 1:00pm


Who needs Hollywood when there’s Mumblecore? Only a little over a decade old, this movement of DIY filmmaking is known for its micro-budgets, improvisation, naturalistic conversations in real places, single characters in their 20s and 30s and minimal soundtracks. Some movies are in black and white. This Saturday and Sunday, the Museum of the Moving Image will celebrate this genre with a six-film retrospective on one of its major figures, Joe Swanberg (above, left), who will be present for all screenings.

Details: Mumblecore, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, 0n March 1st, the films are Hannah Takes the Stairs, 2 pm; Nights and Weekends, 4:30 pm; and Silver Bullets, 7 pm; on March 2nd, the films are Art History, 2 pm; Uncle Kent, 4:30 pm; and All the Light in the Sky, 7 pm, free with admission.